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May 27, 2015

How Do Architects Use Social Media?

An important question we’re often asked is whether or not architects engage on social media. The answer is an unequivocal yes. But at the heart of this question, from a manufacturer’s perspective is really; “how can we be part of an architect’s conversation on social media, and leverage it to meet our goals.” Herein lies the complexity, and if properly executed, the opportunity.

Based on analytics from client campaigns, our team’s in-depth analysis and industry mind-share, it is evident architects engage on social media channels both for business and for personal use. An architect has many use cases for social media that are only going to grow. Social media promotes dialogue amongst peers, something architects value, as well as providing a platform for showcasing images and visual inspiration, which architects also prioritize.

An architect has the ability to discuss and share thoughts on the built environment and will self-promote on a global scale through social media. All of the popular social platforms have an architect presence including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram. These platforms are all well suited for visual, technical and intellectual sharing, something architects intrinsically value.

Social media can also be used to research and have conversations about the kinds of things that architects find important to know about building materials like performance, reliability, manufacturing processes, support and who else is using it and how.

How Are Architects Using Social Media?

Let’s start the conversation by taking a look at how architects are using social media. For an example of how firms are leveraging social media, we took a look at Gensler’s Facebook page with 13k followers.

 Gensler

The firm’s updates include sharing thought provoking content, videos, photos and press of their projects.

For the visually inspired, architect Vivien Wei Wei Liu’s Instagram account has an impressive 107,000 followers and architect Bjarke Ingels has 56,000 followers.

They typically share photos of architectural interests but also of personal snapshots of their lives.

_vdubl_•_Instagram_photos_and_videos

And according to Architizer, “If you want to find good architecture on Instagram, you can’t go to the big names. Indeed, the best Instagramming architects aren’t the Bjarkes of the world, but rather the young, anonymous designers, programmers, and builders working at firms that aren’t their own, who labor for hours over the placement of a screw in a plan on BIM, who spend their days researching building materials.” These are the young, Millennial architects who in many cases make decisions on specifying products.

Social media also has a place with architects looking to expand awareness of their passion projects. For example, trending architect Marc Kushner, co-founder of NYC based firm HWKN and Architizer, is involved with the +Pool project in New York, which is looking to raise money to create a pool in the city’s harbor.

The movement’s founders created a website to kickstart the effort, but also expanded to social media to have real time discussions regarding events, updates and to further the cause by pointing back to their fundraising site.

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Social media provides a perfect platform for connecting  professionals to exchange trends, inspirations, developments in architecture and the opportunity to gather research. But architects are more likely to share content related to the finished product, the built environment, inspirations around cityscapes and buildings of the future, versus building materials.

We took a deeper look at how architect firms are discussing products and sharing content related to building materials and came across this example between NanaWall and firm Klopf Architecture.
The firm installed a NanaWall in a classic Eichler home and was featured on Dexingner, a site devoted to design focused editorial across multiple mediums.

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But editorial is just one example of this shared content experience. Ensuring the proper presence, channels, hashtags and infrastructure are in place, puts your brand in the social stream.
For example, if this content included #nanawall or @nanawall, that directly tags the brand presence and channel, alerting end users to directional links for more information and to visit your brand channels.

How Are General Contractors Using Social Media?

We’ve actually noticed that general contractors, the boots on the ground that work with building materials everyday, are far more likely to be sharing, tagging and discussing building materials related content on their channels than architects.

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These two examples are from a search on Instagram for the keyword “drywall.” But they convey the types of content contractors are talking about. They’re posting about product, locations, the projects they’re working on and calling out their company name. They’re using social media as an opportunity to self promote.

But this directly ties back to how a manufacturer can benefit by being a part of posts like this. If an architect is searching for content or keywords like this, and your brand is associated with other high profile projects, geo location or the GC’s channels, that’s a net benefit. But you can’t be part of the conversation, if you’re not in the conversation.

General contractor The Raymond Group’s LinkedIn page is full of examples of sharing building materials manufacturer content. Examples include highlighting the installation of AmeriPOD, modular bathroom units and a video from a DeWalt sponsored series that featured one of their carpenters.

The_Raymond_Group__Overview___LinkedIn

The future of content lies in UGC (user-generated content) and it’s all about getting other people to talk about your brand. Targeting general contractors is the first place to start to achieve that social reach for building materials brands. And by way of GC’s sharing this content, building materials brands will organically elevate their social graph and reach.

Examples of content trending in the architect community and beyond include education, imagery and story telling. Aligning these concepts with the right content on the right platform translate to reaching the followers that matter and building a community that can scale.

How Are Building Material Brands Using Social to Reach Architects?

Armstrong Commercial Ceilings provides an example of a manufacturer leveraging social media for multiple use cases. The website is designed with engagement in mind, and they have a clear conversational tone and content concepts that connect with their audience targets.

Armstrong_Commercial_Ceilings 5

Here are three great examples of how this company is using social updates to have a conversation with their followers. Promoting their Solutions Center for product selection, 10 tricks for using Revit and promoting their entry for an Architizer award.

But does all of this activity influence your business goals? Absolutely. If you’re getting the right audience engaged with relevant content and more importantly into your nurturing funnel, social media does the heavy lifting of real time conversations between brand and customer on a global scale. It establishes the foundation of being able to harvest leads in all phases of the funnel, gives followers a reason to engage with your brand and provides a platform for customer care.

Not having a seat at the table in this era of real-time engagement and user generated content (UGC) is a missed opportunity. But having a social media presence that meets your business needs is also part of the equation for success. At our core, we understand that digital marketing and social media are powerful tools that serve brands best when they’re designed to move the target audience from follow to funnel.

It’s important to recognize that relevant and engaging content feeds the channels, so with proper planning and infrastructure the social garden can grow and be leveraged to meet your expectations and business goals. Your target audience does not view social and digital tactics as separate aspects of your brand. To them it is your brand.

The Top Use Cases for Using Social Media to Reach Architects:

• Platform for outreach, lead generation, education and engagement for connections
• Drive them to your website
• Promote your upcoming events
• Build a community and customer loyalty through engagement

For more information on Interrupt’s strategic content and social media planning services for building materials manufacturers please contact us.

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